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Thursday, 12 February 2009
Page: 1228

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services) (6:47 PM) —I thank the members for Oxley and Makin and the member for Murray, the shadow minister for immigration, for their contributions on the Migration Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2008 [2009]. They have all indicated support for this legislation. As noted earlier, the legislation clarifies and enhances provisions relating to merits and judicial review of migration decisions. Clearly, in most areas of law, it is in the interests of the client to expedite matters, to have quick hearings and to get finality. However, as a number of speakers have indicated in this debate, this is one area where that is often not the agenda. In actual fact, it is to the advantage of unsuccessful clients to prolong processes and, in many cases, they have the knowledge beforehand that they will not win. The longer one remains in the system, the more one builds up a collateral case around, for example, the formative years of children’s lives being spent in this country or the ties that people have with Australia. Those facts are useful in attempting at a later stage to launch parallel claims for permanent residency in the country. The refugee, human rights and humanitarian claims go their course. As I noted, it is often the case that, by making sure those hearings, those processes, go for many years—even if one had no thought whatsoever that one had a valid claim—one can over time establish an alternative claim on Australia.

I indicate my appreciation to the member for Oxley for providing those figures on the success of appeals. They point very obviously to the fact that a very significant proportion of these cases are waged for the reasons I have just outlined. The success rate of the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship is also very telling. I commend the legislation. There will be the ability henceforth to expedite these hearings without reducing the legal rights of those affected. There are a number of provisions in the bill that ensure injustice will not occur. I commend these points to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.